August 8, 2019
Spotlight: Tony Mark, Co-Founder and Personal Trainer of BALANCE at Yonge + St. Clair
One of Yonge + St. Clair’s most prolific fitness and training studios – Balance Fitness – is also one of it’s oldest. We spoke with Co-Founder and Personal Trainer Tony Mark on the history of his studio, its unique edge, and being a part of the Yonge + St. Clair community.
This article was provided by Marylene Vestergom, a marketer and freelance writer whose curious mindset allows her to implement strategies and bring them to life. Her first passion is sports, having covered multiple Olympic Games.
Yonge + St Clair: When did you start?
Tony Mark: We’ve been a fixture in this neighbourhood for 18 years. Prior to Balance, I was working at another club in the area, so I really got a feel for the clientele. Those early days helped me formulate my business plan, and the reward was in the creation of Balance — a boutique-style club offering personalized attention by knowledgeable trainers, where health and wellness is balanced, and in this fast-paced world, it’s something our members don’t take for granted.
Y+S: What’s the Balance experience?
TM: Yonge + St. Clair has always been a tightly woven community. Even through its transformation, the footprint of many of the anchor businesses are still here, and that’s because we cater to the needs of the neighbourhood. Since many members live in the area, Balance was designed to be like an extension of their homes; after all, for some it’s a place they can come to decompress or find motivation to their path of wellness. Our core strength is delivering on our health and wellness promise, and that starts the moment you walk in through our doors. You’re not a number, we know you by name.
Y+S: One of the things we noticed when we toured Balance, was the use of natural materials. It really has that bespoke boutique feel. Whether it’s the gray slate that anchors the hallways or the hotel-like changerooms with radiant heating underfoot, there is a sense of calm throughout the space. We can see why your members enjoy working out at your gym. Plus, even though it was busy, it doesn’t have that high-volume feel.
TM: Thanks for noticing. That feeling is something our members have requested and we listened. We also took that design sensibility to the workout areas. The space is illuminated by natural light, which pours in from floor-to-ceiling windows; the lightly coloured wooden floors are easy on the body. But make no mistake, this gym is packed with state-of the-art fitness equipment and, in 2020, new equipment will be brought in to meet the ever-changing demands of our members. We are always anticipating their needs and ensuring we are ahead of the curve. This fall we will be introducing a new lineup of classes in our studio. So as our members evolve, so do our offerings.
Y+S: What’s the Balance difference?
TM: Our team. Our clientele expects a higher level of service and knowledge, and all our personal trainers have a university degree and are industry-certified in their specialty. They’re passionate about wellness and carefully tailor their training to each member. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach. We match members with the appropriate trainer so they can get maximum results.
Y+S: Getting people back to their optimal health is a priority at Balance. Is that why you brought ESM Clinics under the direction of Dr. Erin Saltzman to Balance?
TM: The key is helping people to use their bodies to their fullest potential, and sometimes it means joints and muscles, etc., need to be retrained. With Functional Integrated Therapy, Dr. Erin Saltzman and her team can access movement dysfunctions and joint restrictions. We wanted to offer this care to everyone – not just to elite athletes. With that in mind, we decided to extend our health and wellness promise by expanding on our team of health-care specialists, including Kinesiologists, Exercise Physiologists, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, Registered Massage Therapists and Exercise Rehabilitation Therapists. This one-stop approach with ESM Clinics helps in combining the care of a Balance Registered Therapist with a Balance-certified Personal Trainer, which can help speed recovery in the case of an injury but also can provide the fitness regime best suited for our members. And this care is not just for our members – this service is also available to the Y+S community.
Y+S: You’ve mentioned the business owners who are located at Y+S have not only invested time and money to make it what is it today, but that they’re also residents in the community who look after each other. Can you explain?
TM: They help each other. You may recall the six-alarm fire at the Badminton & Racquet Club, February 14, 2017. It was devastating to the club and members alike. I reached out to them and offered our club as a place where their members could continue with their fitness regime at Balance. That’s what neighbours do.
Y+S: Are you living your dream?
TM: You know, I really enjoy what I do – so yes. It’s my passion. I work a lot – but I enjoy it.
Visit Balance at 52 St. Clair Avenue East or visit their website at balancefit.com